Travels with S/Y Thetis


Thetis only

1998: Samos to Chios

This document contains the logs of the first leg of the return trip with S/Y Thetis from the Greek Aegean from the island of Samos, to her base Glyfada, near Athens. The leg is from Pyhagorio, Samos to Limnia, Chios. The places visited on the way are: Poseidonio, in Samos, Angelia, Slagonas, Olimpi, Mesta Bay, Alinda cove in Chios. The logs are illustrated with maps and photographs, and also include some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Route to Chios
Route to Chios

Thursday September 3, 1998 Day 1

Corinna left Samos to go back to her studies at Brown University a couple of days ago, and I started getting ready for my return to Athens. My plan was to go north and to enjoy sailing and exploring as much as possible, without being in any hurry.

In the last two days, however, there were furious winds, but the forecast for today called for a lessening of the winds starting in the afternoon with further improvement for tomorrow. So, my plan today was to go only as far as Poseidonio and, if the weather is better, to sail to Chios tomorrow. I woke up early and started closing the house in Kalami for the year. By the time I got to Pythagorio it was early afternoon.

I raised the anchor at 1450 and left the harbor. There were no other problems except that the knot meter did not work. The knot meter uses as a sensor a small impeller which gets fouled by the growth of seaweed when the boat is idle for a period of time. After we were outside the harbor, while Thetis was drifting, I dove and cleaned the growth from the impeller with a brush. This fixed the problem. The wind was from the N at 21-30 knots. We motored the 4.6 miles to Poseidonio [37° 42.65' N 27° 03.3' E] where we arrived at 1610.

After anchoring, I spent some time washing the deck and the cockpit from the dust accumulated in Pythagorio. Later I went ashore and had a coffee with Nikos’ friend George Mareveliotakis. Later still, I had dinner of αθερίνα (atherina- small fish) at the "new" restaurant operated by the friendly ex-waiter from the Kerkezos, just a few meters to its right.

I slept very, very well. I just love sleeping onboard, there must be something about the slight motion and the soft sound of water that I find absolutely soporific.

Friday September 4, 1998 Day 2

I woke up early, at 5:00 AM. The Navtex forecast was good, force 5-6 NW for the Ikario with further attenuation. Based on this I decided to go on with my plan and sail to Cape Masticho, Chios.

Raised the anchor at 0617 and we motored out of the cove while it was still dark–the moon which was nearly full had already set. The wind was about 10 knots E as we motored out of the Mycale Channel. After we rounded Cape Gatos the wind diminished to under 10 knots but veered to the N, right on our nose. As we approached Cape Praso, the easternmost point of Samos, I raised the main and left it at the first reef. After rounding the cape, I set our course to 293° towards our destination. The wind was now 10-15 knots NNW which allowed us to motor-sail. After we cleared Cape Kotsikas there was considerable swell and spray, so I put up the spray hood.

Map of Chios When we were abreast of Avlakia, the wind veered a few more degrees to the W and I unrolled the genoa and was able to turn off the engine. Nice sailing again, despite the waves and spray! The watermaker was still working perfectly and my silicon chalking of the right main cabin Plexiglass window seemed to have done the trick. No water leaking. Later the wind died and I had to motor, then it came up again further to the W and off went the motor. Then, the wind changed direction to N and back to the W. This went on, alternating with sailing and motor-sailing all the way to Cape Masticho at which point the wind turned 10-15 knots W and made sailing hopeless. I lowered the main, rolled-in the genoa, and motored the rest of the 6 nM to my favorite Angelia area.

Sunset at Salagonas
Sunset at Salagonas

We arrived in Angelia, Chios (Χίος) at 1815 after a passage of 69.2 nM. I anchored in the Salagonas (Σαλάγωνας) cove [38° 13.2' N 25° 54.8' E], which is just E of Angelia, at 6.5 m depth with 40 m of chain.

I took a lukewarm shower and sat in the cockpit drinking ouzo and listening to the music of Markos Vamvakaris while watching the sun go down in a most dramatic sunset. The days are now getting noticeably shorter. This is a perfect anchorage. The sea is perfectly flat, I can smell the mastich, and there is no soul is in sight save for a distant small fishing boat lifting its nets. This is bliss!

Later, I started cooking. I used one of the turkey cutlets which I had bought in Samos and had already pre-cooked so that they would keep. I also have brought from Kalami a bottle of home made chicken stock and a good supply of onions, fresh tomatoes, olives, garlic, potatoes, oregano, bay leaves, and lots of grapes, all fresh from our garden. I made a pilaf with the stock and garnished the cutlet with a sauce of onions, tomatoes, capers and a few olives. I ate these on the cockpit, illuminated now with the almost full moon, to the accompaniment of the Turkish CD of Zeki Müren and Muazzez Abaci that dear Turgut gave to me and Corinna, as a parting gift, in Agathonisi. The whole cove is bathed in silver from the moon rays. Exactly one year ago Alice and I were on our last night in Antalya, Turkey.

Saturday September 5, 1998 Day 3

Salagonas beach
Salagonas beach

I slept so well, that I did not wake up until 7:00. I decided to go for a hike. After launching the zodiac, I put on my hiking boots, took my walking stick (γκλίτσα—glitsa, Greek shepherds staff) and I went ashore. The lovely isolated beach was unfortunately polluted by oil discharged from ships. This a real problem for many Aegean beaches.

Poluted Salagonas beach
Poluted Salagonas beach
Angelia cove
The Angelia cove

I walked up the dirt road. After about an hour, I reached the village of Olimpi (Ολύμποι). It is a medieval walled village built by the Genoese. Several of the original Genoese buildings are still standing. I walked in the narrow streets and I had an orange juice in the small platia (πλατεία—village square) and then started on my way back.

Street at Olimpi Genovese building, now a cafe at Olimpi
Street at Olimpi
Street at Olimpi
Charcoal Funrace
Charcoal Funrace

Just outside the town, I saw a charcoal making furnace (καμίνι—kamini). I remember such primitive furnaces in Samos when I used to visit my Grandparents as a very young boy. I have not seen one for over 40 years!

Many women on donkeys carried sieves, coming from home after gathering the mastich (μαστίχα—masticha) gum. The production of mastich is a tradition particular to Chios. It is the resin of a bush that is said to grow only in this SW corner of the island. The bush does not grow very big, and at the appropriate time the growers make tiny slits on its trunk. From these slits, the gum oozes out, and it is collected. Tiny droplets are also collected from the ground, hence the sieves. The gum then is taken home, and over long hours during the winter, it is sorted according to quality and size. Families own individual bushes scattered over a wide area. The mastich gum is used as a particularly flavorful chewing gum, as a flavoring for ouzo, in a toothpaste, for folk medicines, etc. This information was given to me by one of the women I met on my way. During the Ottoman years, the production of mastich reached its highest point, it being the favorite chewing gum of the ladies in the seraglio because it gave them a sweet smelling mouth.

A Mastich bush
A Mastich bush

I spent the rest of the day swimming and being lazy under the shade of the tent. The Navtex forecasted 5-6 NW winds, but here in Salagonas there was hardly any wind at all, nor did I see any waves further out at sea. I was not sure when and where I will go next. Possibly to Volissos here in Chios or maybe to Sigri in Lesvos, either tomorrow or the day after. We shall see. I enjoyed the luxury of being alone and deferring such decisions until the zero hour.

In the evening I made a pasta with tuna and capers. Once again, I watched the moon while Thetis was lazily swinging on her chain. The pleasures of cruising are so visual! In our city life we so often forget how beautiful our planet is and how much visual variety the sun, the moon, and the sea, modified by the wind, can provide. Also, in this age of jet travel when we can go within hours from one corner of the Earth to another, we tend to forget the vastness of space when seen from the vantage of a slow-moving sailboat. Everything reverts back to a human scale. I am listening to the classical guitar of Andrés Segovia while my eyes are drinking in the beauty of the cove and the moon lit sea. I am sleepy but I do not want to go to bed just yet, I cannot have enough of this splendor. Unfortunately these reflections in the “perfect” anchorage are spoiled by the sudden descent of mosquitoes, blood thirsty mosquitoes, worthy of their Kalami relatives. Only burning some repellent convinced them to leave me alone so that I could sleep.

Sunday September 6, 1998 Day 4

Lady fishing in Mesta Bay
Lady fishing in Mesta Bay

We left Salagonas at 0715. There was no wind and of course no sailing. Motored near Cape Mesta and the bay of Mesta, just to see it. This is the harbor of the more well known inland medieval village of Mesta. Today, the bay was very calm, and looked pleasant enough, but also there were a few ugly buildings. There was lots of room for docking. However, according to both Heikell and the Portolanos, this bay gets a lot of ugly swell with the NW meltemi. A lone old lady who was fishing in the middle of the bay waved at me. We proceeded up the eastern shore of the island. At 1045 we entered the lovely Alinda (Αλύντα) cove [38° 23.4' N 25° 59.4' E].

Cove of Alinda
The cove of Alinda

Alinda has a wonderful beach which was occupied by a few campers, all local, out for the Sunday. I anchored at 10 m depth, very close to the beach. The cove looks well protected from the NW wind and it could be a good anchorage, although it is not mentioned by either pilot book. The only fault that I could find with this cove is that its water was not crystal clear but somewhat murky and greenish. I swam, had lunch and read until 1305 when I pulled up the anchor and motored to Limnia, the harbor of Volissos. Still, there was no wind but as we approached Limnia the sky became slightly overcast with light high clouds which are rare for early September. The sea, however had a considerable swell.

We arrived in Limnia (Λιμνιά) [38° 28.1' N 25° 55.1' E] at 1415, total distance traveled from Salagonas was 23.7 nM. The harbor has been improved since the last time I was here in 1992 but it is still recognizable. The quay area has been extended and so has the jetty. I docked stern-to next to a catamaran with a German flag. There was no one in sight anywhere at this hour, of course, to help with the docking lines, and I had to drop the anchor and back up while letting out the chain with the remote control (this not very easy because one cannot see the tension on the chain but has to rely on the feel of the boat as she is reversing, too much resistance and you lose control, not enough and she will hit an adjacent boat). When she was near the quay, but not touching it, the speed had to be checked by a quick burst of the engine in forward and the tension on the chain had to be just right to hold her while I jumped ashore to tie one docking line and then quickly jump back onboard to tension it. Thank goodness there was no wind and it all worked out without a hitch.

Later, I inquired about getting some fuel. The fuel station is 4 km up the steep hill near Volissos (Βολισσός), too far to carry the jerry cans. I got the station’s telephone number and called them to see if they could deliver, but the man who answered told me that any day other than Sunday he would deliver, but on Sundays he does not have any help and cannot leave the station. The proprietor of the Limnia restaurant, from where I was calling, overheard this conversation, and as he remembered me renting a car from him in 1992, he offered to drive me to the station. I took him up on this kind offer and quickly went back on Thetis to practice one of my very favorite sports: siphoning Diesel fuel from the jerry cans to the fuel tank. After a while, the man, true to his word, came along with two lovely children in the car, a very lively boy, Dimitris, aged 8, and a gorgeous girl, with very deep blue eyes, Lemonia aged 13. They are the children of a lady who works as a waitress at the restaurant. On the way to the station all three grilled me with questions about my boat, where I come from, what do I do, how much do I make, where is my family, how much does the boat cost, where have I been etc. Dimitris was concentrating on naval and mechanical issues while Lemonia on the human issues. At, the station, the jerry cans were filled with 47 L of fuel and loaded to the car. On the way back the interrogation continued.

When I got back to Thetis with the cans, the catamaran next to us, S/Y Atlantis, was occupied by a young German couple who introduced themselves as Axel and Monica Lange. Axel is a naval architect and he not only had designed but actually built Atlantis 17 years ago. Since then, he “shares” a job with another naval architect in a shipyard in Hamburg. He works for six months and spends, with Monica, the other six cruising with Atlantis. A very sensible arrangement indeed! Over dinner at the Limnia restaurant, they related how they have been practically everywhere in the Mediterranean and how much they enjoy this double life. The conversation continued after dinner in the cockpits of Thetis and Atlantis to the accompaniment of some very good wine that they had bought in Limnos. They are now on their way to Porto Heli, where they will haul-out Atlantis for the winter. They have kept her there for several years and are very satisfied. Before, they wintered her in Turkey. While they love Turkey and the Turkish people (they even speak passable Turkish), and although they were also pleased with the services there, they got very tired of the gulets and the crowded and noisy marinas. They prefer the more tranquil, less popular islands.

The total distance from Pythagorio, Samos to Limnia, Chios was 97.5 nM while the total traveling time was 18 hrs.